David Frei with dogs
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David Frei Unplugged In Beverly Hills Dog Show

David Frei dog show interview

The king of dogs places me on hold because Grace is attempting to dig herself a hole in the couch. When the King of Dogs candidly admits his pooch behaves just like yours, one can’t help but have a “wow, he’s just like me” moment wash over them.

Frei, well-known to millions of television viewers for nearly three decades, as the voice of of the annual Westminster Kennel Club, knows dogs.  Frei has also been the co-host of The National Dog Show presented by Purina, a telecast seen by nearly 20 million viewers every year on Thanksgiving Day. Not one to slow down, Frei and company will hit the airwaves on Easter Sunday evening.

USA Network’s broadcast of the Beverly Hills Dog Show presented by Purina will feature Olympian figure skaters Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski as correspondents on the show’s red carpet. The competition, which is co-hosted by legendary dog show judge David Frei and actor John O’Hurley, will also include sports icon Mary Carillo reporting from backstage. Lisa Vanderpump (“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” “Vanderpump Rules”) will present the Best in Show award, and “E! News” Co-Host Maria Menounos will be on hand interviewing attendees about how their dogs are the stars of their families.

This self-admitted long-time “Freinatic” spoke with the charming Frei by phone recently for this exclusive interview and candid talk with the man who is a dog lover of the highest order.

Annual Kennel Club of Beverly Hills Dog Show
Rex Linn (CSI Miami) in the middle with David Frei, left and John O’Hurley (Chris Weeks / KCBH)

A Tidal Wave of Changes

“If a tsunami were to hit the United States, the most likely place is right here along seaside Cannon Beach,” Frei muses about his return to the Oregon coast.

Frei is candid about his shift from left coast boy to west coast resident.

“When speaking to NBC about coming to work for them full time, they asked me what it would take to make it happen,” he says.

Frei’s response is classic: “Let’s do a dog show.”

He reminds me that there are already three dog shows in the east (Westminster, AKC National, and the National Dog Show).

Beverly Hills Dog Show chairperson, Patty Kanan, helped facilitate the venue location and show date to accommodate the broadcast of the show.

The result, Frei shares, is a dog show that is fun and looks beautiful on air.

Annual Kennel Club of Beverly Hills Dog Show
POMONA, CA – MARCH 04: A dog competes at the Annual Kennel Club of Beverly Hills Dog Show at Pomona Fairplex on March 4, 2017 in Pomona, California. (Photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images) : Ken Todd;Lisa Vanderpump;Bo Derek;Rex Linn

Dog Show Changes Through the Decades

When asked how much has changed in the dog show ring from whence it came in the 1800s, Frei says the competition is pretty much the same, but the entries have expanded. There were 50 or 60 breeds at a dog show competition back then. More than 1,350 dogs representing 166 breeds and varieties took part at the Beverly Hills Dog Show, which was founded in 1965.

“It’s not a life and death competition,” Frei reminds me. “I say it all the time: These dogs don’t sit around all week on doggy cushions eating doggy bon bons.”

These dogs are members of the family, whether it’s in the dog show ring or anywhere else: Luring, coursing, obedience, rally, or just sitting next to you on the couch. Frei tells attendees of a dog show to circulate and talk to people. Part of the fun is the competition, he admits, but the greater fun is seeing the great variety of breeds and getting to know their characteristics and temperament. This includes mixed breeds, so mutt lovers, rejoice!

“The alma mater factor is there,” says Frei. “If I am sitting at home watching television with my Brittany, Grace, and I see the Brittany (on t.v.), you know I’m cheering for the Brittany.”

He admits he whispers to his beloved Grace, one of two dogs with whom Frei shares his life, “If you and I just did a little more road work, maybe I bathed you more often than I do, we could compete in the ring and have fun.”

The path of this icon in the dog world takes a different route, and his fans and followers are all the more grateful for it.

David Frei with fans
I am a true Frei-natic (seen with Amy Jo Hanna Eckenrode on left)

Take Three

What three words does David Frei use to describe himself and why?


I am compassionate with my dogs and in my lifestyle and the things I do with my dogs.


You can’t devote yourself to a life with dogs without a sense of humor.


I am excited to share with others the great joy my dogs bring to me. Whether it’s a dog show or visiting a hospital with my dogs (as therapy dogs), I want people to smile and realize they can do these things with their dogs as well.

Annual Kennel Club of Beverly Hills Dog Show
POMONA, CA – MARCH 04: Ken Todd and Lisa Vanderpump at the Annual Kennel Club of Beverly Hills Dog Show at Pomona Fairplex on March 4, 2017 in Pomona, California. (Photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ken Todd;Lisa Vanderpump

Follow Frei and the Beverly Hills Dog Show

During the show, USA will stream a live puppy viewing party on the network’s Facebook page, allowing fans at home a chance to experience the spectacle with their favorite four legged friends. Throughout the broadcast, viewers can post photos of their furry companions on Twitter using @Purina along with the hashtag #BHDogShow to share how their dogs play a starring role in their lives. From April 10-23, Purina will donate $1 for each social media post (up to $25,000) to Leader Dogs for the Blind, a global organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

In addition to the Easter night debut of the Beverly Hills Dog Show Presented by Purina, USA will present an encore on April 17 at 9 AM/8c, and NBC will air an encore on Sunday, April 23 at 1 PM/12c.  NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will also feature the show in its annual “Thanksgiving Day Dog Show Marathon” on Thursday, November 23.

David Frei on Twitter: @DFreiTheDogGuy

Facebook: David Frei on Facebook (Follow him there)

Beverly Hills Dog Show
POMONA, CA – FEBRUARY 04: A dog competes at the Annual Kennel Club of Beverly Hills Dog Show at Pomona Fairplex on February 4, 2017 in Pomona, California. (Photo by Chris Weeks/KCHB/Getty Images)

Don’t Get the Dog Show Fuss?

If the dog show ring baffles you or perhaps you just simply don’t “get it,” Frei says if it isn’t fun for the dog, then it won’t be fun for you. Dog show competitions represent a sport.

If you don’t like the dog show ring or have fun in it, then finding something else to do with your dog is key, he says. Take the dog to agility, rally, lure coursing, or something else that fits you and your dog.

Go to a dog show or watch one on television, Frei shares.

“Pay attention to what you see, what is being said, and talk to the people who have these breeds. They will explain why a dog looks as they do, why they have a certain haircut, and why the short legged dogs are so close to the ground.”

It’s all about fun and the dogs being the stars and for Frei, he’s having the time of his life.

enter to win

Book Giveaway is Closed

The 5 Winners of an autographed book from David Frei are:

  • Jason Diehl
  • Lola the Rescued Cat
  • Sandy Weinstein
  • Beth of Daily Dog Tag
  • Tandi Cortez

Five lucky Fidose of Reality readers will win an autographed copy of David Frei’s book, Angel on a Leash: Therapy Dogs and the Lives They Touch. Simply use the entry form below and good luck! USA residents only, please. Read complete rules here.

Angel on a Leash book


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  1. This is such a fun article to read and to hear about this new dog show. I always followed Mr. Frei during Westminster and missed him this year. I can’t wait to see the show on Easter. Good to know, he’s still in the dog world. Great interview, Carol, as always.

  2. Great article and look forward to reading this book as I want to have my bulldog Norman be a therapy dog when he reaches 1 year.

  3. If I were showing a dog, I’d be excited to see a major show in a warm climate.

    Winter in NY is a rotten time to try to keep a dog show-styling. 🙂

  4. that is hard to say, i dont like playing favorites since i have 3 girls. however, i guess i would say Evie, since she is 15 1/2 and near the end of her life. she has been with me since she was 6 wks old. she has been the best girl, so smart, and just my very best friend and confident. my other 2 gals Tressa and Harley also have my heart. so i cant show favorites.

  5. Oh I love reading about David! Miss seeing him (I don’t travel as much anymore) so delighted I’ll get to “visit” via the TV broadcast. Oh…and I have his books, they’re FANTASTIC so everyone, go ahead and enter. *s*

  6. I admit I do not know anything about the rules, or what the judges are looking for but I so enjoy just watching the dogs and seeing all the beautiful pups strut by! Funny thing is, more often than not, I pick most of the winners too!

  7. Angel is definitely is best in show in my heart.

    If I was in better health, she would be working as a therapy dog. For now, she trained herself to help me.

    1. I am going to push back at you on this, Jada. The better dog shows do promote healthy dogs. I know a lot of the folks involved.

  8. Kitties are my favorite however I have watched the dog shows on TV in the past. Like you mentioned, a viewer can learn a thing or two about the various breeds. I’ll have to DVR the show from Beverly Hills. I bet the show will be oh so fabulous!

  9. As you know, I’m a huge fan of David’s as well, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to meet him at the DWAA and thank him for inspiring me to become a therapy dog handler. I’m so glad you’re giving away a copy of David’s amazing book, Angel On A Leash! It’s a great book, it really inspired me to become a therapy dog handler. I so admire how he and his dogs give back to people in need. I cherish that book! This latest dog show sounds like so much Fun!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  10. Having had a lifetime of dogs, I can’t pick one above the rest. They’ve all been there for me when I needed them, but of course, my needs have changed through the years.

  11. With three dogs, it’s so hard to pick but if I had to I would pick Maggie. She is so well behaved and has such a gentle soul. I love watching the dog shows, we have our DVR all set! Attending a dog show in person is definitely on my bucket list! David sounds like such an interesting person, would love to read this book!

  12. HA! You had me at “Grace is attempting to dig herself a hole in the couch” as this is one of Piper’s favorite activities! If couch-digging were one of the competitions in the ring, she’d be a shoo-in for Best in Show!!

  13. I didn’t know the gentleman but I do NOW! He is definitely an influence in the dog world isn’t he and he sounds very human – not a diva star type!

    Thank you for introducing me to a fascinating man.

  14. David Frei sounds like a great person! I love that he puts so much work into helping dogs. It is great to see highly passionate people doing what they are best at doing. I hope that his campaign is able to raise a lot of money for the leader dogs. 🙂

  15. How great you got to interview David. I really want to read that book as I find those sort of stories so uplifting and we do a lot of research on the benefits of dogs- especially service and therapy dogs, for our documentaries. I attended Westminster two years in a row a few years ago when I was starting Talent Hounds and was so pleasantly surprised at how happy the dogs seemed and how much fun I had wandering around seeing all the breeds and meeting nice people. I hope they broadcast the BH Show up here in Toronto.

  16. I loved reading this. You’re so lucky to have had the opportunity to interview David! How exciting. This book is really something I would love to read since I truly believe in the power of pet therapy.

  17. I wasn’t aware of the dog show to be broadcast on Easter, so glad you shared this post! I always enjoy David’s commentary. Although he only has a few seconds to comment on each dog as they come out, he manages to advise on the good, bad and ugly of each breed. I’m with you, I’m a big fan of his, too!

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